Interviewed by Rick "The Screamer" Lindner
Date: July 2011
BURN HALO has hit the ground running with their sophomore release "Up from the Ashes" produced by both Colby Wedgeworth and the band. They have also been creating quite a stir in the rock scene since the release of their current single "Tear it Down" which just recently made its mark on national airways. The band is made up of current members James Hart (vocals), Joey Roxx (lead guitar), Bandon Lynn (rhythm guitar, vocals), Aaron Baylor (bass, vocals) and Dillion (drums, live speech inspiration). They are happy to be where they are at for the moment, but have their sights set much higher with this stellar new release. Here is what the lead vocalist had to say to Rockeyez.
Rick/Rockeyez:: James, we are catching up with you today at the Wheelhouse Lounge in Cedar Falls, Iowa. This is a nice place that is very fan and band friendly in its layout and feel.
James/BH: First time here.
Rick/Rockeyez:: Likewise for me coming in from the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area.
James/BH: Awesome, I think we were in Sioux Falls, SD a couple of years ago?
Rick/Rockeyez:: You were at a club known as Nuttyís (now under the banner of Boonies). Speaking of Sioux Falls, as I was heading out to make the five hour drive to the show today I heard your first single "Tear it Down" rocking Octane. What a great way to start the day and the drive!
James/BH: That is great!
Rick/Rockeyez:: The album just came out on 6/28/11 and you are already hitting the airways not only Octane, but Music Choice and quite a few other markets as well. I imagine you are encouraged by that?
James/BH: Yes, absolutely. Considering where the band is at right now and where the song is at and what it is doing on the radio it is all positive. Tonight is our first actual tour date for the album. We played one other show recently, but this is the first since the release. We have been looking forward to it and considering we have been off the road during the release of the album, not able to promote it, just strictly the song on the radio everything is going good.
Rick/Rockeyez:: I am not sure how to classify "Up from the Ashes" other than just a good Ďole rock-n-roll gem. I hear elements of classic AEROSMITH and GNR at times and maybe a little modern comparison to AVENGED SEVENFOLD and PAPA ROACH, yet still at the same time very much recognizable as simply Burn Halo. How would you best describe your new album?
James/BH: I really donít like how I would classify it either. We wanted to make an aggressive, heavier rock album that had metal undertones. I feel like we were able to do that really well. We wanted to really put our stamp on this as the group writing together for the first time. We wanted to blaze our own path and we fell like we did a good job of taking the influences we have musically, individually, and put them all together and make them cohesive. That might be why you hear a little AVENGED or GNR and stuff like that. There are some elements of ALICE IN CHAINS on it as well, basically stuff that we listened to growing up. They are all groups that influenced us as singers, guitar players, drummers, and as song writers.
Rick/Rockeyez:: This album was truly a band effort in the recording. Talk about that experience and what everyone brought to the table. You have some players on this one; did that also change anything in the overall process?
James/BH: We wanted everyone to chip in and feel like they could bring forth a great song and have a legitimate contender for the album. The only one that didnít bring a song to the table was our drummer. He came late into the picture with where we were at in the process. However, he really helped mold the songs together and to be the backbone of the songs. He did a great job drumming on the album. As far as musically we wanted the album to be us and our personalities to really shine through. We had talked about writing with some song writers and the opportunity did present itself. I did write a couple with a guy that did make the album. We just wanted this overall to be a group effort. We wanted this to be BURN HALO and going forward people would get this signature sound from us and it wouldnít come from somewhere outside the band.
Rick/Rockeyez:: How did you decide on "Tear it Down" as your lead-off single? Was that a group thing or something you received some feedback on?
James/BH: It was mainly feedback. We felt like the first single was going to be "Up from the Ashes". "Tear it Down" is a great song and when we sent the album to our manager he said I think this would be a great single. Yeah cool, but I still think "Up from the Ashes". We then sent it into the label and they said unanimously that they wanted "Tear it Down" also. They said it had this aggressive FOO FIGHTERS feel to it and maybe some AVENGED SEVENFOLD. It is a really aggressive in your face rock track and we are very proud of it. We are happy to have it lead out the album.
Rick/Rockeyez:: Do you have any time tables for the next single? Not to rush ahead as "Tear it Down" is doing so well right now. Iím just looking down the road so to speak to get your thoughts on that.
James/BH: I think since the album just dropped and this is our first real tour in support of it since the release ,and with the track getting traction on radio and continuing to build we are going to do everything we can to peak the track. To basically get it as high as we can on its given chart and then I guess we might move to the next single. We just havenít come to that point yet. We are just really focused on the task at hand and that is to promote the album.
Rick/Rockeyez:: When you get to that point are you going to keep it heavy or one of the more mid-tempo songs?
James/BH: In a perfect world we get a track like "Up from the Ashes" next. And then we go to something like "Stuck in a Rut" or "Threw it all Away" for example. Weíve got multiple songs that make us feel like we have a really strong album. We could take just about any one of our songs and throw it at radio and have it be fairly successful. That said, we are a hard rock band or a heavier band. We feel like it is important to continue to build upon that and we would prefer to have another heavier track. We donít always have a say in things and game plans are sometimes switched at the 11th hour so it is just all a matter of what everyone is feeling like and how the album is doing at that point.
Rick/Rockeyez:: You are probably the heaviest band on this current tour bill (EGYPT CENTRAL/RED LINE CHEMISTRY). With that said you are all compatible and in that same expanded market still. What do you hope to get on this current tour leg and the locations you are about to hit?
James/BH: We just want to play to the right crowd. I feel that is really important. You could play in front of a 1,000 people or 100 people. If that 1,000 person isnít geared towards your style it might not be that beneficial. You could play in front of 100-200 of the right people that are into what you are doing, are going to buy your album, be happy with what they listen to they are going to want to get involved with your band and support you going forward. That is the most important thing, grabbing real fans.
Rick/Rockeyez:: In trying to reach that market with the new album, somebody might read this interview that isnít already aware of BURN HALO. If they were to give you a chance after reading this and listen to one song, which one would you hope they check out that most represents what BURN HALO is trying to do?
James/BH: I feel like it would be either "Tear it Down" or maybe a track like "Dakota". If I had to choose I would say "Tear it Downí because it emphasizes what the entire album is. It has drama in the beginning with an epic build and then it is explosive. I think it showcases the entire album in one song and what we are capable of doing.
Rick/Rockeyez:: Staying with that theme I am curious about your thoughts on this. For people who have maybe never heard of you or only are familiar with your previous work with 18 VISIONS album how would you sell them on the idea of giving you a chance?
James/BH: If you are a fan of heavy music then this album has everything for you. It is current and it is modern. It can sit in there with the commercial acts, but it still has that classic/traditional vibe to it. It has some of that old METALLICA and GNR "Use your Illusion" feel to it. "Use your Illusion" is one of my favorite albums of all time. It just bridges that gap between eras of heavy music and we feel that people who check it out will enjoy it.
Rick/Rockeyez:: I really appreciate the fact as a fan that you made that effort to bridge the two.
James/BH: Thank you. I think a lot of that is the guitar work on here. There are a lot of bands out there that can shred or show how good they are, but they donít necessarily pick the right notes. When I first started this band I wanted a lead guitar that could actually play a full spectrum of the scale. I didnít really have that with 18 VISIONS as they were different types of good guitar players. What I wanted for Burn Halo was yeah we could shred and there is a time and place for that, but the band will be remembered for having the song within the song and the right notes. It has to stand out and, but be memorable where people want to continue to hear it.
Rick/Rockeyez:: What bands sometimes forget is it is the hook or that chorus that keeps the fans humming that song in their head which in turn helps elevate a band above some others.
James/BH: Whether it is a vocal or a cool rhythm guitar or lead riff or even a drum hook it is important to keep the melodic interest going.
Rick/Rockeyez:: With the album being so new, what percent of your set right now focuses on it in relation to S/T effort?
James/BH: We are definitely going to try to mix it up the best we can. Now that the album is out and people have it in their hands we want to promote this thing. We will lean heavier on the new album and play the songs we have the most fun playing or we feel like we will get the best response. What will shine through with the new songs is everyone is emotionally invested in the songs. There is a connection to it for everyone.
Rick/Rockeyez:: After this leg expires, what is next for BURN HALO?
James/BH: We are looking to stay busy through the end of the year and continue to tour as long as we can.
Rick/Rockeyez:: Anything you would like to add?
James/BH: Thank you and also thank you to the fans for your interest in BURN HALO. We are very proud of this album and hope you check it out if you havenít already. We also look forward to meeting you the road.